How To Pick The Best Ceiling Paint

What’s the best ceiling paint?

How do I go about picking it and what’s the best choice?

Should we use a darker color or go with a lighter color?

This post on the best paint to use on your ceiling first appeared here a few years ago.

I’ve recently gone back and added a lot more relevant and helpful info when it comes to picking the best option for your ceiling.

In this post I’ve broken down some tried and true ceiling paints you might want to consider for your own project.

I’ve also incorporated the top questions (and of course answers) I get asked about ceiling colors.

white is the best ceiling paint on family room coffered ceiling

How To Pick The Best Ceiling Paint

What color should I paint the ceiling?

I’ve been getting this question a lot lately.

So, I thought I’d address it again here today!

Choosing the right ceiling paint color can be very tricky.

In the home improvement world, this topic doesn’t seem to get discussed enough.

But since I often get so many questions about ceiling paint colors, I’m more than happy to write about them here today.

When I picked the colors for our ceilings in my home, I looked at probably hundreds of photos and paint swatches to find the best ceiling paint for the different rooms in my house.

It was overwhelming how many choices there were!

Looking back there were too many options, and I didn’t need to spend my time on all of them.

I’m here to tell you you don’t need to look at a lot of different options and you don’t need to make yourself crazy over this.

So many of the questions I receive are concerns over wall paint colors.

Then the very next thing people want to know is “what color should we paint the ceiling?”

What Color Should I Paint My Ceiling?


Personally, I think  a white ceiling is never a bad look.

So, the easiest answer is to always go ahead and paint the ceiling white.

It should be in the same shade of white as the trim and walls (IF your walls are white.)

I’ve written before about my top white paint colors for walls.

I prefer to see a flat finish white latex paint on the ceiling with a semi gloss finish on the trim, to set them apart just a little bit.

Walls look best in a matte finish.

You can read more about which paint finish to choose here.

My personal “go to” wall and ceiling color is Benjamin’s Moore’s Decorator’s White.

In fact, we tend to use this popular wall color A LOT.

White ceiling paint is simply a great choice.

If you have a large spaces and/or crown molding – this might be the best bet.

But, I also happen to love white walls, this is my personal preference – because I like to add color with accessories and furniture.

In general, if you don’t want to use white – a light color will look best on your ceiling.

Of course there are exceptions to this, which we will discuss further down.

example of white flat ceiling paint in a gray room

Flat paint or glossy finish? 


The way the light hits your ceiling will create the illusion that the white you chose for the ceiling is a bit different.

In the example above we went with a flat sheen finish in Benjamin Moore’s Decorator’s White.

This coordinated nicely with the gray paint in this room, which is Benjamin Moore’s Balboa Mist.

You can find out more about my favorite gray paint choices with examples in this post.

So, you should opt for a flat finish (which is sometimes called a matte finish) or an egg shell finish.

In other words, the least glossy finish is very often the best finish for most ceilings.

Flat ceiling paints, in general, which almost always yield the best results.

Sometimes, in a smaller space, you can opt for a very high gloss ceiling.

I don’t have a square feet hard rule here, but think in terms of the size of powder rooms and butler’s pantries…

We’ve done this in our powder room where the bathroom ceiling is now a glossy dark ceiling – and it looks so great.

In fact, a little ceiling drama in a rich color can really lend itself to the overall style of a space.

glossy blue ceilingThe glossy sheen blue ceiling in our butler’s pantry. Here we used Fine Paints of Europe – a high quality paint, trusted by interior designers for good reason, for decades.

How to choose the best ceiling paint color for your room.

white ceiling paint on front entry ceiling

But, maybe you don’t want to go with white.

If you’re looking to paint your ceiling a color to make it really pop, I’m very partial to a light blue ceiling.

Or, as it’s known in the south, Haint blue!

This charming ceiling paint tradition looks so great in a living room or dining room.

haint blue painted ceiling in living room

In fact, we went with this light blue look on my living room ceiling (seen above) in our butler’s pantry ceiling (in a high gloss, because it’s a small space) and in my master bedroom.

We love this look so much!

a great light blue ceiling paint blue color swatch

We chose Benjamin Moore’s Morning Sky Blue.

I’m a big fan of Benjamin Moore’s quality and the color selection of this company.

The key to using colors on the ceiling (or anywhere really) is adding different amounts of white paint.

This is a great tip I learned from working with professional designers on my own home.

Any paint store can mix a color with fifty percent white (they often call this “halfing” it.)

You can even do less than half, it’s up to you.

You don’t need to use the paint color exactly as it comes in the can.

This is so freeing!

I strongly suggest playing around with different paint samples on the ceiling – using different amounts of white paint mixed in.

It’s also important to test the paint color samples in both natural light and at night with the lights on and off!

You can see the difference lighting can make on an interior paint color in this post on Benjamin Moore’s Chantilly Lace.

It’s amazing how different even a simple white paint color can look in different light settings.

white painted slanted ceiling with sunlight windows


This brings me to another great tip I got years ago for the ceiling paint job in our Vermont condo.

Because there’s a lot of wood paneling and the interior walls are painted a warm tan color, I knew white ceilings would look way too harsh in our living room here.

I was told by a professional interior designer to add some of the tan water based color to the white paint for the ceiling.

This is sort of the opposite effect of adding white to a color.

This technique adds a subtle tint to the paint.

Exactly what was needed in the space!

The quarter tan added to the all white paint warmed the room right up!

Warm, white, coordinated perfection!

More of this ski condo, with walls painted with Benjamin Moore Manchester Tan.

Best Textured Ceiling Paint


I almost forgot to add this important detail.

In our Vermont condo we were dealing with popcorn ceilings at the time.

It was a bit expensive, but we paid extra for our contractor to remove the popcorn ceilings.

He then went on to skim coat them to make them smooth, this is the best way to get rid of surface imperfections.

Then he went ahead with the latex ceiling paint and primer.

Once he applied the primer and several coats of paint, it was like a new room.

I’m so glad we did this!

white painted double height ceiling


Remember less is more.

So, in conclusion, don’t make yourself too crazy when it comes to picking your ceiling paint.

You don’t even need to use special ceiling paint!

For a long time I thought you had to use an actual good ceiling paint, like it had to say this on the can/label.

As discussed above, regular paint in a flat finish is always the perfect choice.

This is all you need for a beautiful ceiling.

When you’re facing design choices for your home improvement projects – remember, less is always more.

Limit your options to the ones I discussed above and I promise it will look amazing!

What is the best ceiling paint brand?

We tend to use a lot of Benjamin Moore paint colors in our house – this paint offers beautiful coverage.

They have a great reputation and so many lovely colors.

And, before I commit to any single color, I always get a few samples and test it out in various lights.

Samplize makes these clever adhesive paint samples in every color you can imagine!

adhesive paint sample

I swear by these Samplize samples, this is a really good product.

These clever adhesive swatches help me narrow down and find the right color every time – seriously the best thing when your choosing a paint color.

If you’re still looking to add a bit more oomph to your ceilings, I highly suggest checking out this post I did on wallpapered ceilings!

And, if you’re considering painting your basement ceiling tiles, all of the above tips still hold true.

I hope this round up of ceiling paint colors was helpful!

Tell me what ceiling paints you love in the comments below.

Good luck!


And, while we’re talking about trim, this piece is super informative all about wainscoting.

I’ve already answered a popular inquiry on which paint finish to choose in this post, just in case your wondering:)

How to pick the best color for your kitchen cabinets which aren’t white or beige

Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee paint review.

The Best White Color For Your Trim.

10 Reasons To Paint Your Walls and Trim the Same Color.

The Best Paint Finish For Your Bathroom.

Sherwin Williams Alabaster Paint Review.

Benjamin Moore White Dove paint review.

The Best Neutral Colors For Your Home.

Interior and exterior, we’ve got you covered!

If you’re looking for the best white exterior paint colors, this post is for you.

A few more things…

Design lovers! Have you joined our fun and VERY helpful design Facebook group?

In this group – members share photos with their design questions and dilemmas from their own home.

We all chime in with our best advice!

We also share our best sources and tips – so it’s great for those hard to find items and pieces.

Lastly, to help you even further with your home dcsign projects, download my FREE DESIGN CHEAT SHEET because I know you’re going to find it SO helpful!

It’s loaded with all sorts of quick tips and handy measurements.

Sign up below to grab that, because it’ll be super helpful!

iphone with designe cheat sheet pdf on it it I recommend you keep it on your phone as your easy cheat sheet for all the correct design and decor measurements you’ll ever need!

PS: Be sure to PIN THIS IMAGE below – because this way you’ll have all this info conveniently saved for your next home improvement project!

pin image for how to pick the best ceiling paint

*This post contains affiliate links. This means if you click a link and purchase something, I may get a small commission from it at no cost to you. For more info, please read my disclaimer. I only refer things that I truly love and hope you will too!

Leave a Comment


  1. Thank SO much for the above information. I had exactly 3 days to make crucial, meticulous, $ investing, please love it don’t hate it decisions when renovating our bonus room. This meant new flooring, window trim , paint-ceiling and all; (shhhh let’s not mention the full bath attached-Woops) This room has been screaming at me for 2 years since purchasing this house-(closing door and walking away doesn’t help btw) oh heck-THE DOOR🤦🏻‍♀️. Since I’d redone the whole house-time was up!!! Your post was straight to the point with amazing example pics-AND THANK YOU for listing the paint colors you used on walls etc-so exhausting to look at “love it” examples and…”wait wait-don’t go-what’s the color on the trim?” said to my now frustrated self. I’m signing up for all your stuff and can’t wait to dive into all of it!!! Blessings, Candace from TN

    Published on 5.29.23 · Reply
    • Sue De Chiara wrote:

      Thanks Candace! You just made my day!

      Published on 5.30.23 · Reply
  2. Aida Niko wrote:

    Hi, I want to do a blue ceiling in my loving room. You said you used BM morning blue sky. How much white paint did you have added?Thanks!!

    Published on 10.7.19 · Reply
    • Sue De Chiara wrote:

      Hi, I don’t remember, sorry! But try a few samples with different amounts of white added: fifty percent and 25 percent. I know we looked at a lot of samples first!

      Published on 10.8.19 · Reply
  3. Shirley wrote:

    I am interested in a very high gloss blue color on the ceiling of my powder room. How did you achieve the high gloss look on your powder room ceiling? Thanks so much!

    Published on 2.26.19 · Reply
    • Sue De Chiara wrote:

      Thanks! High gloss paints AND ceilings are both pretty tricky, so we hired a professional familiar with doing this!

      Published on 2.28.19 · Reply